Whether you set up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, your business is likely to involve working with more people to develop and sell your idea - including partners, suppliers, distributors and advisors.

Once you have decided on the structure of your business there are other key areas you will need to address.

Like most small businesses you will probably start as a "sole trader" but setting up and developing your business will involve working with other people to develop and sell your idea.


Whatever type of business you setup you will need to work closely with suppliers.

  • Compile a list of potential suppliers by searching online and talking to other businesses.
  • Request  estimates and meet with them to negotiate prices and develop relationships to get a feel for which suppliers are reliable and trustworthy. Payment terms, trade credit and discounts must be negotiated and agreed in writing.

Almost all businesses will involve using IT for marketing and administration.

A guide helping you choose and manage your IT system is  available here.


Whether you business will trade online, locally or in shops you will need to get your product to the right market and to achieve this you might need to work with a distributor.

If you’re selling overseas you will need to work with a freight forwarder who can handle the export of your goods.

For more information on exporting and using a freight forwarder follow this link.

An essential guide to selling your products or services is available here.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy. More information on internet marketing is available at this link.

Building a website

A website will probably be essential for your business to:

  • Advertise your product
  • Attract Customers
  • Sell Direct
  • Interactive Communication

You can to set-up your own website or employ a web design company - more information on setting up a website can be found here.

A guide to selling your product or service online is available at the GOV.UK website.


Many small businesses start life from a garage or a spare room because it makes sense to keep overheads low until the business gets established.

A guide to running your business from home is available at this My Advice Gateway page.

At some some stage you may decide that you need a business premise. 

The RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) maintain a Small Businees Support Hub and have produced a series of guides covering all aspects of small business property including information about buying, leasing, maintaining/extending, rates, business premises, available at this link.


You may find it necessary to work with a partner with different skills and knowledge to yours to perform the tasks that you are not familiar with enabling you focus on what you’re best at. It could be beneficial to work with several partners in a team so you can share the responsibilities including risk, getting funding, expertise and sharing contacts.

Full details of how to set up a partnership can be found at the GOV.UK website.

Insurance and Permits

Irrespective of whether you are employing people, you will need to get insurance for your business. A guide to business insurance is available at entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk.

A guide to business interuption insurance is available at startups.co.uk.

You might need to get certain licences and permits depending on the type of activities your business is involved in. To find out which licenses and permits you may need to get use this licence finder tool.

Advisers and Consultants

At some point of the process of setting up your business you are likely to benefit from professional advice. Always ensure you get an estimate from any advisers or consultants you work with, and agree in advance exactly what you want them to do for you. Whether they charge an hourly fee or offer a fixed price for the work, it will be beneficial to get several quotations so you can compare prices and make sure you’ll be able to work well together.

Advice on how to choose the right Business Adviser is available here.


An accountant will help with financial advice and managing the growth of your business. They will also act as an ‘agent’ to deal with your tax affairs, submit your VAT returns and deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on your behalf.

‘Chartered’ accountants are fully-qualified members of a professional body.

You can find a reputable chartered accountant through either of the following professional bodies:

Legal Advisers

You should also consider getting legal advice when setting up your business particularly if you want to sell shares.

You can find a solicitor on the Law Society website.

Business finance and support from GOV.UK

A guide to setting up ypur own business is available at this link.

Your business can get advice, support and financial help from government-backed schemes at the following links:

Free advice is availble from the government’s Business Support Helpline.

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local ‘growth hub’.

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